No one said it better than our current Board President, Billie Hires. “Serving is how you show others what is important to you and what you care about.” Serving is also rewarded through the B2B relationships you establish and friendships formed. Please consider how you can help us build a stronger economic future for all of us by joining our board. Click on our board members’ pictures to learn more about them, their businesses, and their commitment to our communities.
Billie Hires, President
I am currently the branch manager and loan officer at GW Jones Exchange Bank. We are the only locally owned bank in Cass County, MI. The bank has been around since 1877 and is one of the very few banks that remained open during the Depression. The bank is still owned by the same family.
I am the current President of the Cassopolis/ Vandalia Chamber of Commerce. I have worked at GW Jones for 21 years. I have been a part of our Chamber for approximately 7 years. I was an ambassador for the Three Rivers Area Chamber prior to that for about 5 years. I have always loved being part of the Chamber. It is fun and a good way to connect with other business members in our community.
Serving is how you show others what is important to you and what you care about. I hope to bring experience, professionalism, and kindness to our Chamber and business community. I will do all I can to serve our members to the best of my ability. Their success is our success. We have to support, encourage and build one another up!
Darren Williamson, Vice President
I have been a Cassopolis (Cass County) resident since 1988, and an Owner/Landscape Architect at North Star Landscape Design & Installation. North Star is a design/build firm specializing in residential and commercial landscape installation, hardscape and water feature construction, maintenance, and problem-area resolution.
North Star was founded in 1999. However, I graduated from Purdue University in 1982 and have been working as a Landscape Architect for 40 years both here in Michiana, and in my early days – along the Washington, DC-Baltimore corridor.
I feel serving on the Chamber Board provides a way for me to contribute to our community. I’ve also been active in Farm Bureau and other boards in the past, but the Chamber is a better “fit” where I share common interests and goals with other business owners.
This is my home, my community, and this is where most of my work is done; so it’s important to contribute and help our community grow and flourish. I hope I am able to support other businesses, and collaborate where possible, for the benefit of all. My commitment is to support our business partners in any way possible – whether that’s by bringing them my business (and that of others), promoting their services, and/or providing support and encouragement for their efforts.
Diana McGrew, Secretary
I am a lifelong resident of Cassopolis, and a contract Property Assessor to Townships, Villages, and Cities.
I have served on the Cassopolis Village Planning Commission, and the Village Council, and was Village President for one term.
Presently I serve on the boards of the Cass County Planning Commission, Cass County Historical Commission, and the Cassopolis Area Utilities Authority (CAUA)
Jeff Nelson, Board Member
Jeff Nelson and his wife, Catherine Nelson, are co-owner / operators of Bolt LTD (parent company to Bolt Document Management and Bolt Laserworks). Originally based in Elkhart, IN, the Nelsons purchased a building and moved their businesses to downtown Cassopolis in 2019 to be closer to their home in rural Cass County.
Bolt Document Management has provided design, implementation, support, and consulting for digital document and content management systems for 25 years. Bolt is an award-winning product development partner and value-added reseller for Laserfiche (a worldwide leader in content management systems) for 25 years. Bolt supports regional and national clients including municipal governments and medical and manufacturing industries. Bolt also provides production document scanning and indexing services to their clients.
Bolt Laserworks is a recent addition to Bolt LTD. The laser operation specializes in custom laser cutting and etching of awards, memorials, signage, custom decorations, and personalized gifts for home, office, and business.
Jeff is a board member of the Cassopolis / Vandalia Chamber of Commerce, as well as a member of the Elkhart and South Bend Regional chambers. The Nelsons are strong proponents of local chambers and support the chamber’s contributions to the local business community.
In addition to serving on the board of the Cassopolis / Vandalia Chamber of Commerce, Jeff also currently serves on the Cass County Economic Development Council, the Jefferson Township Zoning Board, and the Berrien Cass County Bee Keepers Club. He is past president of the Cass County Chapter of Pheasants Forever, a wildlife conservation group.
Melanie Hunsberger, Board Member
Dowagiac native, and former resident of Florida, coming back into this community after several years down south has taught me how special it is and the potential it exudes. I have seen the camaraderie a smaller town exhibits and how that makes Cassopolis and Vandalia thrive.
I am the Employee Engagement Coordinator for CHT USA which is headquartered in Cassopolis. We have a sister location in Richmond, VA. Together, we are a global player in the specialty chemical industry. We produce some of the most specialized products in the industry, from Consumer Care to Industrial Care – chances are if you use cleaning products for your vehicle or conditioner for your hair we may very well have our silicone product within it.
My position at CHT includes anything and everything inclusive to bringing people together. It’s what I do professionally and carries over into my community involvement, recruiting and retaining talent, training, and development, planning cross-site activities, to just downright- fun within our team!
I enjoy bringing people together, as well as highlighting growth. Our community is a hidden gem, that needs to shine and I appreciate being a part of that effort.
Servant leadership has always been a part of me. I believe that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Fostering relationships within our community and elaborating on shared practices, I hope that the more we share, the more we can develop together.
If there is something I can contribute I will. I am a team player and will always encourage others.
Julie Hartman, Board Member
My name is Julie Hartman, and I was born and raised in Cass County. I went to school in Marcellus. After graduating from Marcellus High School, I studied at Southwestern Michigan College.
I started my work career at the Cass County Council on Aging, where I spent 17 years. I left the COA to become the Operations Manager for Cass County Transportation Authority in 1994. I am still there after 29 years! I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the agency, billing for contract services, training, testing, and supervision of the drivers, and keeping track of all non-financial data that is required in reporting to the Michigan Department of Transportation. The Cass County Transportation Authority is a 5311 non-profit organization that operates public transportation in the County. We provide a much-needed service for the residents of Cass County. We provide both contract services (Cass County Medical Facility, Cass County Council on Aging, Southwestern Michigan College among others), as well as services to the general public. Most of our riders are elderly and handicapped individuals’ that do not have access to transportation by their own means. We make sure that they get to their scheduled appointments, the grocery store, the bank, and social activities. We also provide free transportation to Cass County Veterans and widows of Veterans for medical appointments at local VA facilities. The Cass County Transportation Authority also manages the City of Dowagiac’s Dial-A-Ride transit system.
I serve on the Chamber Board because I think it is important to stay engaged in your local community. I enjoy serving and I take pride in the work that we do. As a lifelong member of Cass County and the Cassopolis community, I believe that it is important for constituents to support local businesses. It is important because local businesses provide jobs and services to the community, as well as support public events and programs.
Tracy Mast, Board Member
I am a Business Relationship Manager for Chase Bank. As my title states, I have a passion for our business community, and I work daily to aid in ways to partner with my clients to make our local economy stronger, by supporting and helping them grow. I have been in the Financial Industry for over 15 years, and have held several positions, since starting in the industry as a Teller. I take pride in my work because I believe to have a healthy community you need a healthy local economy.
I currently am a member of the Cassopolis/Vandalia Chamber and have been for 2 years. I enjoy serving on this Chamber of Commerce because I am excited by all the positive changes in the communities of Cassopolis and Vandalia and enjoy being an active member and volunteer. I am also a Board Member of the Cassopolis Main Street Committee as well and believe by being a member of both Boards, I can be the liaison between them so we can have both involved with all of the exciting changes we have been working for in Cassopolis.
In the Cassopolis/Vandalia Chamber, I help organize the Annual Golf Outing, which is our main annual fundraiser. Being outdoors, and golfing are two things I enjoy so being a part of the Outing Committee is a great way to help raise money for new projects, and attract possible new members to the Chamber.
On the Cassopolis Main Street Committee, I help organize the Annual Beach Bash and Rock the Block by aiding in booking local bands and organizing volunteers in the Beverage Garden. My love for music and volunteering along with my training in the Financial Industry allows me to be effective, and still enjoy my volunteer time with my fellow committee members.
Along with these two groups, I am also a member of BNI in South Bend and Michiana Business Support in Niles. These are both groups that are designed to network and support local businesses in the Michiana Area. I also volunteer on two committees in the Berrien County Youth Fair and have for over 12 years. It has been beneficial to link those communities to the Cassopolis/Vandalia area to help others discover what an amazing area we have and see the exciting changes that have happened, as well as what may be next on the Horizon.